MWA Midwest
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MWA Midwest Critique Program

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The MWA Midwest Critique Program (formerly “The Hugh Holton Program”), created in 2010 by the MWA Midwest chapter, was established to help aspiring mystery writers* develop and improve a manuscript related to crime fiction. Writers will be paired with MWA Midwest authors (published authors of crime fiction) who will provide critique and insights on a specific work-in-progress (up to 25 pages).

This year, we will accept short stories for critique. Submitted stories must follow all other guidelines, and will not be eligible for the Holton Award.

Through their participation in the program, authors requesting a critique will:

  • Receive constructive and written feedback related to their manuscript

  • Be encouraged to reflect critically on their own writing, focusing on areas to improve and develop

  • Waived entry fee for October’s Hugh Holton Award for unpublished authors.**

To request a critique, interested authors must submit:

  • A completed cover letter (see details below)

  • Up to 25 typed manuscript pages ONLY, adhering to style guidelines: Double-spaced, 12-point Times New Roman type, one-inch margins all around, page numbers on the top right-hand of each page.

  • Payment ($25.00 MWA Midwest members; $50.00 non-members)

Upon receipt of submission, participants will also be required to fill out a release form.  Requests for critiques will be processed and authors will be matched as quickly as possible. We will take submissions from May 1 to July 15. Cover letter and manuscript must be submitted to Critique Coordinators Shelley Kubitz Mahannah and Libby Kirsch by email to HoltonMWAMidwest (at) gmail (dot) com with the subject header: Critique Program/your last name.

We ask readers to provide feedback within three weeks of receipt of the manuscript, though sometimes the process takes longer. All feedback is reviewed before being sent to the author. Caveat: Matches with authors who write in your specific sub-genre cannot be guaranteed. Published authors can give feedback in many subgenres, and varied reader feedback has a value all its own. If you will only seek feedback from someone in your subgenre, we suggest you seek a paid developmental editor in that subgenre. Also, some readers may opt to provide anonymous critiques. Critiques cannot be used for blurbs in query letters or in marketing material without the express written authorization of the critique reader.

Payment may be made via Pay Pal to mwamidwest (at) gmail (dot) com or by check made payable to MWA Midwest and sent to MWA Midwest, PO Box 3142, Oak Park, IL 60303. Please note: Requests will only be processed upon receipt of payment.

Payments AND manuscripts must be submitted by July 15, 2019.

• In the Body of Your Email •
Please include your contact information and manuscript title (please something other than “working title”). Let us know, too, (1) whether you would prefer your manuscript to remain anonymous to the critiquing author, and (2) how you have rendered your payment (PayPal or check).

• In Your Cover Letter •

  1. What is the title of this work-in-progress?

  2. To the best of your knowledge, how would you characterize the sub-genre(s) of your manuscript? (e.g. cozy, thriller, noir, historical, traditional, young adult, paranormal etc)

  3. Please provide a one- or two-paragraph description of your story, offering some information about the major story arc and the point-of-view characters. This will help situate your reader.

  4. Do you have any specific questions for the author critiquing your manuscript?

  5. Manuscript formatting checklist:
    ____ Typed, Double-Spaced in 12 point Times New Roman
    ____ Page numbers in top right-hand corner
    ____ Proofread for minor typos, spell-checked

*Depending on availability, published authors may submit a manuscript they wish to be critiqued, but unpublished authors will be prioritized. 

**The Hugh Holton Award is for authors who have no published novels (including self-published) and will run from October 1st – 15th, 2019, with the winner announced in December 2019. Participation in the MWA Midwest Critique Program is not required to submit for the Holton, but only manuscripts submitted to the Critique Program will be eligible for waived entry fees. More details to come later in the year.